But, as Brunn admitted Tuesday afternoon in front of a packed courtroom, “I just got so scared,” and used the 7-year-old’s small skate as a murder weapon.
As a result, Cherokee County Superior Court Judge Frank Mills sentenced an often-emotionless Brunn to life without parole, following a plea deal that, had he not agreed to, could’ve resulted in the death penalty. The swift action comes just 46 days after the girl’s murder.
The 20-year-old maintenance worker and resident at Jorelys’ Canton apartment complex, was then instructed to recount what happened the night of Dec. 2.
Following last week’s indictment on murder and handfuls of other charges, Brunn pleaded guilty before members of Jorelys’ family and media in one of the most horrendous tragedies to rock the county seat.
He said he had been working at 100 River Ridge Drive as a groundskeeper for just over a month, and on that Friday, he came across a roller skate, one of which he had seen young Jorelys wearing.
He said he thought he could use it to lure the girl into a nearby, vacant apartment unit.
“I didn’t know why,” he said.
Brunn, who briefly sobbed before regaining his composure, said he photographed the skate and, as Jorelys was walking toward her apartment complex from the nearby playground, approached her with it.
He said he had found it.
Brunn said the apartment unit was unlocked, and he had cleaned out most of the remaining furniture from a family who previously lived there.
Brunn said Jorelys followed him inside the unit to retrieve her roller skate.
He then closed the apartment door, but did not lock it, and told Jorelys to lie down on a mattress that was left behind.
He instructed her to undress and “touch herself” and again later in the bathroom.
When Jorelys asked if she could go home, Brunn said, “yeah.”
He then “got scared,” he said, and used a razor to slash her throat.
He also admitted to restricting her with plastic ties and other items.
Brunn said he then cut Jorelys several times while she was still lying in the tub and eventually hit her over the head with the roller skate around five times.
He then wrapped her body in a sheet that was in the apartment complex and attempted to clean up the blood in the bathroom.
Jorelys’ mother, Joselinne Rivera, cried as she listened to the details.
Brunn said he placed Jorelys’ body in a garbage bag and took it to a trash compactor about 200 yards away. The next morning, he said, he disposed of clothes and items used in the incident.
He then proceeded with life as normal.
He returned to the apartment unit he was living in with a roommate and they were accompanied by another friend. He said his friends didn’t suspect anything and the trio went to Walmart in Canton that night.
He said when they returned, his supervisor told him people were out looking for Jorelys, who had just been reported missing.
He also said he noticed the trash compactor was full, so he ran it again around 8 p.m.
Brunn said he helped look for Jorelys for nearly an hour and then returned to the unit to smoke marijuana with his two friends.
Brunn then said he smoked methamphetamines alone later that night.
Brunn said he was not under the influence of any alcohol or drugs at the time of the murder, but did smoke marijuana during his lunch break, just hours before the crime was committed.
Brunn acted normal throughout the weekend, but after getting high Sunday afternoon between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., he used part of a McDonald’s receipt to write a note to place on the trash compactor that Jorelys’ body was inside.
“I was just freaking out,” he told Judge Mills. “I was high. I was just nervous.”
Brunn said a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent told him they had plans to search it, so he “started freaking out pretty hard and was just scared.”
The body of Jorelys was found Dec. 5, three days after she was last seen leaving a playground inside the apartment complex.
An autopsy revealed she had been severely beaten, stabbed and sexually assaulted.
Two days later, on Dec. 7, authorities arrested Brunn and charged him with murder and making false statements to the police.
Brunn was indicted last week by a Cherokee County grand jury on one count of murder, two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated battery, two counts of cruelty to children in the first degree, one count of aggravated child molestation, one count of enticing a child for indecent purposes, one count of false imprisonment, one count of abandonment of a dead body, one count of making false statements and one count of sexual exploitation of children.
The concurrent sentences for other counts include merging the two counts of aggravated assault and one count of aggravated battery with the count of murder, 20 years for aggravated battery, cruelty to children and child molestation charges, 30 years for the enticing a child for indecent purposes, 20 years for false imprisonment, three years for abandoning a dead body, five years for making false statements and 20 years for sexual exploitation of children.
Cherokee County Sheriff Roger Garrison told the Tribune late Tuesday that Brunn was on his way to the Georgia Department of Corrections to serve out his life in prison.
Cherokee County District Attorney Garry Moss and Brunn’s attorneys, David Cannon Sr. and J. Daran Burns, agreed to the reduction of the aggravated child molestation charge to child molestation after Moss said there’s a “small injury” to Jorelys’ genital area that was circumstantial.
The one count of sexual exploitation of children stems from GBI agents discovering Brunn had looked at child pornography websites on his roommate’s computer, officials reported.
Brunn, who said he “never had an idea of killing a child in my life,” also denied touching Jorelys’ body.
Brunn, who did not make eye contact with the family, told members he was “sorry” for what he had done.
Mills told Brunn, “You will never see the outside of prison, you understand that, during your lifetime,” adding he felt the sentence was appropriate.
Moss read a victim impact statement on behalf of Jorelys’ mother, which was translated from Spanish to English.
“For the rest of my life, I’m going to feel terrible and destroyed,” Moss said reading Rivera’s words, adding there is no forgiveness by God for what Brunn did to her daughter. “I want justice for my angel, Jorelys,” she said in the statement.
Moss, along with GBI Director Vernon Keenan and Sheriff Garrison, held a short press conference and said the developments bring closure to one of the most high profile — and most gruesome homicides — Cherokee County has seen.
“Tonight, Ryan Brunn is no longer clothed with the presumption of innocence, he can no longer deny his guilt and he is now on his way to the Georgia prison system, where he will remain … for the rest of his natural life,” he said.
Moss said the work and the closure of the case is a testament to the “hard work and unity of the law enforcement family of this county and this state.”
The decision was reached, he said, “after much prayer” and after consulting with Jorelys’ mother, the defense attorneys, Garrison, Canton Police Chief Jeff Lance and Keenan.
Keenan confirmed after the press conference that the GBI learned Brunn had been accused of molesting children in Lumpkin County and in Virginia.
Keenan added it’s “not often” when we “get to see a monster appear in court and make full disclosure about the horrors of the crimes they committed” and for “justice (to be served) served this fast.”
“But this has been a very horrific case and the GBI has been honored to work with local law enforcement in this area to see that justice is brought to the Rivera family, to the victim and the citizens of this state,” he added.